This is the first of 34 player profiles described in yesterday's article. Most likely it will start with minor players and work up to the key players.
Besides today, the plan is to introduce or reintroduce every player from the 1986 Reds' season each Sunday. If the project is completed it will end on opening day of next year.
A case can not be made that Michael Anthony Smith was the least important part of the Reds' season.
It is fitting that Mike Smith had the least interesting name on the '86 team. He pitched in two games for the squad that year, one in relief and one starting appearance.
A September call-up, Smith pitched a perfect three-up, three-down ninth inning on September 16 in a 6-1 loss to the Astros.
He retired Billy Hatcher on a ground ball to third baseman Buddy Bell, then got Billy Doran to fly out to leftfielder Nick Esasky, and completed the inning by inducing another grounder to Barry Larkin.
Not bad relief in a mop up roll—the Reds were already down five runs going into the home half of the ninth.
The Reds did win, 9-5, in his only start of 1986 versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. This was in no part thanks to Smith.
He was responsible for all five Dodger runs in two-and-one-third innings pitched.
After pitching another perfect inning in the first, the wheels fell off and he allowed eight batters in the second—four of whom crossed the dish, giving the Dodgers an early 4-0 lead.
In the third, he walked the leadoff man, gave up a single to the second batter of the inning, and then recorded his only strikeout of the season. The following batter, Franklin Stubbs doubled to center driving home Bill Madlock.
Pete Rose, manager of the Reds, then took a trip to the mound. Mike Smith's 1986 campaign was finished.
On the positive side, he did throw two perfect innings, and did not lose any games during the year.
The Jackson, Mississippi, native spent parts of five unremarkable years in the majors. Signed by the Reds as an undrafted free agent in 1981, Smith was dealt to the Montreal Expos following the '86 season in exchange another pitcher, Bill Cutshall.
Cutshall never made it to the bigs.
There is a quirky side note to Smith's career. While in the Reds' minor league system, he was one of two pitchers named Michael Anthony Smith.
"Mississippi Mike" and "Texas Mike" never played on the same Major League team together.
However, in 1989, they were both in the Major Leagues but never faced each other as "Mississippi Mike" was still throwing in the National League for Pittsburgh and "Texas Mike" was in the American League with the Baltimore Orioles.
At age 28, the 1989 season would be the last in the big league career of "Mississippi Mike." He did not officially retire from baseball until 2000, pitching until he was 39-years-old.
Smith's final four seasons were spent throwing for independent minor league clubs. In his final year with the Zion Pioneerzz (yes, two z's) he went 10-5 with a 3.13 ERA.
So at least the guy hung up his cleats on a high note...well, sort of.